A topic that comes up regularly in my day, is the discussion of what is healthy moderation. I find that very few women I have met can practically maintain moderation in sweets, alcohol, eating out and even exercise. It is not for lack of trying, rather it is related to constantly restricting, dieting and trying not to indulge at all. What happens instead is a cycle of restricting, then overdoing it. In some cases this may be an outright binge, but more commonly it looks like eating a handful of cookies every day, or having a fancy coffee and a pastry too often for breakfast, or drinking more alcohol than is optimal for your health.
It saddens me to see so many women with guilt around food, since it takes the enjoyment and pleasure out of eating. If treats and indulgences really were done moderately, there would be no need for this guilt. Our bodies can balance out occasional indulgences.
My suggestion is first to commit to eating healthy foods. Learn to eat real, whole foods, and minimize packaged foods, fast foods, and diet foods. If this is the normal routine of eating, a diet is rarely necessary, nor measured portions, and no more counting calories. The constant rebound of restricting, then overeating can messes up the metabolism.
Enjoying your food is possible while eating well. If you don’t find that healthy food tastes great, then consider taking a cooking class to learn how to transform fresh, whole foods into satisfying meals. Eating well, certainly does not mean a salad with chicken every day of the week!
I also recommend that your build treats, or foods you enjoy into your plan, and don’t frame it as cheating. The psychology is different. When you allow yourself foods you enjoy, this is being respectful of yourself, and also acknowledging that these foods are not healthy to include every day. When you frame foods that you enjoy as a ‘cheat’, it can snowball into a cycle of bingeing and restricting again.